Aitor Karanka says Middlesbrough were only able to peg Manchester City back to draw 1-1 after showing Pep Guardiola's side less respect.
The hosts followed up their 3-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League with a dominant display at the Etihad Stadium, but they found Boro keeper Victor Valdes in stunning form as only Sergio Aguero's 150th City goal beat the former Manchester United man.
And Valdes' heroics kept Boro in the contest right up to stoppage time, when Marten de Roon scored his first Premier League goal to snatch a point for the Teessiders.
"The first half we went to the pitch with too much respect for Manchester City," Karanka said.
"The second half we showed we are not here just to defend and we played in our way.
"I was really pleased with the performance and the goal was amazing."
Boro have been impressive on their travels since promotion, losing only once away from the Riverside Stadium in five outings, which have included this game and a trip to Arsenal, where Karanka masterminded a 0-0 draw.
"Today was even more difficult than Arsenal. Man City scored in a difficult time for us, the last minutes of the first half," he added.
"I am really pleased for the players, who showed once again that we can compete with anyone."
Karanka was also effusive in his praise of goalscorer De Roon: "If someone deserves that goal, it's Marten.
"He was disappointed again to miss last week with injury and he has worked very hard.
"He showed his experience and the team made another step."